Mayor Bill de Blasio defended not paying for COVID-19 testing at the city’s Catholic schools on Tuesday.
The Archdiocese of New York filed a lawsuit last month arguing that state law required City Hall to fund coronavirus screening.
While on-site testing is being provided at public schools, Catholic officials said they are being shut out.
Asked about the ongoing case on Tuesday, de Blasio contended that city lawyers have a differing view of the state law.
The city is appealing a ruling last week by Justice Wayne Ozzi of the state Supreme Court that they must furnish and fund testing for both private and public school students.
“We believe the law is clear that it is not the city’s obligation to provide the actual testing service,” de Blasio said, adding that he has discussed the matter with Timothy Cardinal Dolan.
“Our obligation right now is to continue the process of having New York City public schools be open and healthy and safe,” he said.
In an op-ed this weekend, Michael Deegan, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of New York, accused City Hall of repeatedly impeding the ability of Catholic schools to access COVID-19 related funding.
Deegan highlighted that parochial schools were able to open for full-time learning and suggested that City Hall was unnerved by that achievement.
“I wouldn’t want to believe that some in city government would see our success as a threat and are thus doing whatever they can to thwart us,” he wrote. “But it’s hard to avoid that impression after what the DOE has put us through.
De Blasio argued that he is rightly focused on tending to students in the largest public school system in the country amid a budget crunch.
“We’ve got a huge number of kids to serve,” he said. “We need all the resources that we have right now. This weekly testing is going to take a huge amount of resources.”
While he defended the city’s resistance to funding Catholic school testing, de Blasio said agencies would assist them with the process.
“We’ll give them a helping hand every time we can,” he said.